Overused and Tired Words

Children looking bored with notebooks in a classroom
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When writing an essay, a term paper, or a report, always try to use words that convey your meaning both vividly and accurately. Very often, students fall into the trap of relying on so-called "overused" or "tired" words, instead of adding in some variety.

Can you just imagine your poor teacher at her desk reading, "The book was interesting," a hundred times or more? That can't be good for creating a friendly grading environment.

How to Write Well

Skillful writing is not easy; it is a tricky endeavor that involves a fine balance between extremes. You shouldn't have too much fuss or too much dry fact in a term paper, because either can be tiresome to read.

One way to develop more interesting writing is to avoid tired or overused words. You'll find that substituting excessively used verbs with more interesting ones can bring a boring paper to life.

Use What You Know

You may be surprised at the extent of your own vocabulary, and the fact that you don't use it for your own benefit. You probably know the meanings of many words, but don't employ them in your speech or writing.

Word usage is a good way to insert your personality, and some life, into your writing. Have you ever met someone new and noticed the difference in their use of words, phrases, and mannerisms? Well, your teacher can see that through your writing.

Rather than adding long, outlandish words to make yourself sound smart, use words you know. Find new words you like and that suit your writing style. Anytime you read, think about the words, highlight ones you don’t know, and look them up. This is a great way to beef up your vocabulary and become more conscious of what words you use and how you use them.


Read over the following sentence:

The book was very interesting.

Have you used that sentence in a book report? If so, you may want to explore other ways to convey the same message.

For example:

  • The book covered fascinating information.
  • This work, which was actually one of Mark Twain's first endeavors, was captivating.

Never forget that your teacher reads many, many papers. Always strive to make your paper special and not boring. It's a good idea to make your own paper stand out from the others with effective word use.

To exercise your vocabulary powers, read over the following sentences and try to think of alternate words for each tired word that appears in italics.

The Colocasia is a big plant with lots of leaves.
The author used funny expressions.
The book was supported by many sources.

Tired, Overused, and Boring Words

Some words are specific enough, but they are so overused they are just plain boring. While it would be awkward to avoid these words all the time, you should take care to substitute more interesting words whenever appropriate.

Some tired and overused words:

amazing awesome awfully bad
beautiful big fine good
great happy interesting look
nice quite really said
so very well

Why not try using some of these instead:

absorbing avid bold candid
compelling distinguished dubious empowering
intuitive empowering intuitive irrelevant
motivating novel predictable questionable

While writing a paper, you might find yourself occasionally using the same words over and over. Especially when you are writing about a specific topic, it can be difficult to find a variety of words to express the same ideas. If you have trouble, don’t be afraid to utilize a thesaurus. It can be a great way to expand your vocabulary.

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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Overused and Tired Words." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/overused-and-tired-words-1857271. Fleming, Grace. (2020, August 26). Overused and Tired Words. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/overused-and-tired-words-1857271 Fleming, Grace. "Overused and Tired Words." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/overused-and-tired-words-1857271 (accessed February 9, 2023).